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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:50 pm 
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Okay, I’ll start by using boshiken, as that is what I have on Bill’s website, but I’m open to discussion on proper spelling and why.

Now, on to usage…been doing some conditioning work, and I’m curious as to the proper striking surface for a boshiken, particularly the thumb strike surface.

I did some web research as well as trying various things, and found three options, one of which is just wrong (IMO). Of course, I am only trying to work and figure out things, so I’m looking for the opinions of other newbies as well as experienced Karateka and teachers.

The first was pulling the thumb back so that it was just fingertips and tip of thumb that are the striking surface. That just seems wrong and more of a palm strike to me.

The second was the tiger hooked fingers and the first joint of the thumb. So the striking surface is the finger tips and the point where your thumb joins the hand. I can see and feel strength here as it seems to align the bones in your hand and wrist. It’s a bit harder to get the angle right if you are striking forward and seems to lend itself more for striking up and/or in (like the double boshikens in Sanchin). But it looks like it could encourage risk of a sprained thumb injury trhough force of impact, similar to but in a different direction from “skier’s thumb”, as noted here: http://www.nigoalkeeping.com/Home/Treatment.htm
(about ½ way down this long page under “sprained thumb injury explained”
Image

The third option was the fingertips and second joint of the thumb (bend of 1st metacarpal and 1st proximal phalanx, as best I can tell in this diagram):
Image
This seems to be easier to align the joint and support it with the palm, but easier doesn’t always mean right. I can also see the risk of jamming the thumb as well. In practice, I found I had to really hold the thumb firmly against my palm or it simply felt...wrong.

It occurred to me that women’s hands, on average, tend to be smaller and sometimes longer/thinner. I’m not sure that equates to more fragile, but it’s something to consider. So what, in your opinion, is the proper striking surface on a boshiken, for strength and proper application? I’ve been taught this in both of the last two methods and seen both used by the same karateka in a kata…so is one more “right” than the other?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:49 am 
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Do you mean kakushiken?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:34 pm 
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Kakushiken is a fingertip strike or "crane's beak." The boshiken/bushiken is indeed hitting with some part of the thumb while it is supported, or not, by the palm.

Some folks have the ability to hit with the first thumb knuckle, unsupported by anything else. Tis amazing to me.

Other people try that same thing and endlessly sprain their thumbs.

I've had senior Okinawans show me other versions including striking with the side of the thumb knuckle as it is supported by the palm and the third knuckle of the index finger. Another is the thumb tucked across to the center of the palm and hitting with the flat side of the first knuckle of the thumb (again, it depends on how your tendons line up whether you can use that one). And a third (most rare) is that the first knuckle of the thumb is tucked and points toward the ground and actually striking iwth the second knuckle of the thumb.

On that last one, I actually know of a few folks who throw their toe kicks in a similar fashion - they point the toes down toward the ground and connect with the second knuckle of the toes...kind of like hitting with a toe hiraken.

What position you use also should be driven by what and if you expect to grab after you hit.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:12 pm 
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Thanks Dana...I hadn't had time to look up kakushkin to reply to Mike. your response is quite detailed, but I'll have to think through some of those variations...as i'm not sure how to point the knuckle down to the ground...hmmmm...the last bit, though, makes perfect sense.

I just realized that I'd seen several variations demonstrated, and simply wasn't sure if one was technically more "correct" or if it was a usage and personal appropriateness thing.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:38 am 
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Well, you confused me by talking about fingertips. The word "boshi" means "thumb". So a boshiken is a thumb strike, not a fingertip strike. It can be a thumb-tip strike, although this strike does not resemble the Uechi boshiken.

Most striking surfaces need to be developed by conditioning, and it was pretty clear to me that the boshiken strike involving the last joint of the thumb would not work for me in this lifetime (given, at least, that I'm simply not going to undertake the task of developing it). Instead, I have developed the thumb pad, the muscle that draws the thumb into the palm. With the thumb tucked in tightly, this bulges out, so it is naturally a first striking surface. I have hardened it somewhat by banging it on things in idle moments. It is much sharper than a palm heel strike, and it is safe to use on hard objects. There may be a right and wrong way, and that I can't tell you, but I figure you have to make your karate work for you. So that's what I did with the boshiken.

When it comes to kicks, I don't have much of a choice because of limited range of motion in my big toes--it's going to be a straight-toe toe kick. I can deal with moderate contact to a soft target, like a sparring partner's abs (and I use the word "soft" technically here, since we take our conditioning seriously at Fedele's Karate Academy ;) ), but if I were to really kick hard, I'd need to have shoes on.

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